State College Spikes Notebook: 2015 Week 9

After an eight-game win streak and the All-Star break, the Spikes went 1-2 and still lead the Wild Card race. Jacob Evans has excelled as a starter.

The State College Spikes have a win percentage of .534 – second to Williamsport in the division – with a record of 31-27 to lead the New York-Penn League Wild Card standings. State College won just two of their five games this week, breaking their eight-game win streak with a loss to West Virginia on Sunday.

Five Spikes competed in the 2015 New York-Penn League All-Star Game, held at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, Maryland on Tuesday.

Saturday, August 15: State College Spikes (7) versus West Virginia Black Bears (5)
Location: State College – Medlar Field at Lubrano Park: 7:05 p.m. ET. [Game 1]

The attendance at Saturday’s Spikes game was the largest in park history at 6,105, and it was fitting that they watched the Spikes best West Virginia (PIT) in a 7-5 decision. The win extended the Spikes’ wild card lead to a full game over Lowell and closed the gap between State College (30-24) and first-place Williamsport to 4 1/2 games.

The Spikes were facing a 4-0 deficit after the first inning, as the Bears’ Logan Ratledge tripled on a fly ball to right center field and knocked in three teammates. Jhohan Acevedo, Orlando Olivera and Cole Lankford, Casey Grayson and Leobaldo Pina tied up the score in the fourth and fifth. Three innings later, runs from Champ Rowland and Craig Aikin put the Spikes in the lead for good.

Over 4 1/3 innings, Spikes’ starter Jorge Rodriguez yielded five runs (two unearned) on seven hits and three walks with three strikeouts. Pedro Echemendia, who earned the win, relieved Rodriguez and finished the game with three scoreless, yielding two hits while striking out four. Echemendia has now earned a win or a save in his last eight appearances.

WP: Echemendia, Pedro. (5-1) [2.32]
LP: Eusebio, Julio. (0-3) [3.97]

Sunday, August 9: West Virginia Black Bears (4) at State College Spikes (3) (14 innings)
Location: State College – Medlar Field at Lubrano Park: 6:05 p.m. ET. [Game 2]

In their 14-inning, 4-3 loss to the Black Bears (PIT), the Spikes broke an eight-game win streak and dropped to a half-game lead in the New York-Penn League Wild Card standings.

The game was kept alive in the ninth when a two-out, bases-loaded single from Orlando Olivera knocked in Jhohan Acevedo and Mike Pritchard for two, game-tying runs. The teams advanced to the 13th inning when an appeal play cost the Spikes a run – and ultimately the game.

A triple from Leobaldo Pina opened the 13th before Jose Godoy drew a walk. With runners on the corners, Casey Grayson lined to center and Pina crossed the plate. As the Spikes ran back to the dugout to celebrate, the Black Bears appealed to the umpires. Because Godoy never touched second base, and an inning-ending force out made the run invalid. Therefore the game had to continue to the 14th, when Kender Villegas yielded the game winning RBI single.

After yielding two runs on five hits, Villegas was charged with the loss – though he did strike out two in his two innings of effort. Starter Dailyn Martinez allowed two runs on seven hits with four strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings, while relievers Tyler Bray and Luke Harrison combined for four hits over 5 1/3 innings.

WP: Paula, Juan. (4-2) [4.15]
LP: Villegas, Kender. (1-3) [4.80]

Monday, August 10: OFF DAY

The Spikes had their fourth off-day of the season on Monday, good timing after Sunday’s 14-inning game. Five Spikes players – outfielder Michael Pritchard, infielders Leobaldo Pina and Casey Grayson and pitchers Juan Perez and Landon Beck – traveled to Aberdeen, Maryland to play for the South team in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game.

Tuesday, August 4: North Team (4) at South Team (2)
Location: Aberdeen – Ripken Stadium: 7:35 p.m. ET. [New York-Penn League All-Star Game]

Related: North bests South in NY-Penn All-Star Game

WP: Bautista, Nestor. (1-0, 0.00) [Batavia Muckdogs]
LP: Gueller, Mitch. (0-1, 27.00) [Williamsport Crosscutters]

Wednesday, August 5: State College Spikes (5) versus Williamsport Crosscutters (0)
Location: State College – Medlar Field: 7:05 p.m. ET. [Game 1]

After losing to Williamsport the entire opening series/opening weekend, the Spikes redeemed themselves against the Crosscutters (PHI) to take the first of a two-day series in a shutout, 5-0. In the standings, they gained a game on Williamsport and were leading Lowell (BOS) by 1 1/2 games.

Supported by runs from Michael Pritchard, Leobaldo Pina, Orlando Olivera and Jose Godoy, starting pitcher Jacob Evans and relievers Max Almonte and Steven De La Cruz held the ‘Cutters to four hits.

Evans earned the win with just two hits over five innings with a total of 55 pitches. Evans hasn’t allowed an earned run in 15 innings as a starter and matched a career-high five strikeouts. Almonte yielded one hit – which was erased by a double play – and struck out one over two. De La Cruz finished with a pair of one-hit innings while striking out five.

WP: Evans, Jacob. (3-1) [0.75]
LP: Gilbert, Tyler. (3-3) [3.00]

Thursday, August 6: Williamsport Crosscutters (9) at State College Spikes (4)
Location: State College – Medlar Field: 7:05 p.m. ET. [Game 2]

After taking an early lead, State College couldn’t hold Williamsport and lost to the Crosscutters (PHI) in a 9-4 decision. The Spikes kept their Wild Card lead in the New York-Penn but were pushed back to 4 1/2 games behind Williamsport in the Pinckney Division.

Cole Lankford and Michael Pritchard broke open a scoreless game to give State College a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Craig Aikin and Jose Godoy added RBI in the fifth and ninth, respectively, to give State College its only four runs.

Spikes’ starter Jorge Rodriguez took the loss after yielding five runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out one, over 5 1/3 innings of work. Reliever Kevin Alexander came in for Rodriguez, pitching 2 2/3 innings and yielding one run on two hits and a walk. Kender Villegas came in for the ninth and yielded three runs on four hits while striking out two.

WP: Taveras, Jose. (6-2) [2.89]
LP: Rodriguez, Jorge. (4-3) [3.16]

Friday, August 7: Batavia Muckdogs (5) versus State College Spikes (1)
Location: Batavia – Dwyer Stadium: 7:05 p.m. ET. [Game 1]

State College took an early lead, but as was the case Thursday night, they lost it, which resulted in a 5-1 defeat to the Batavia Muckdogs (MIA).

A run scored by Thomas Spitz in the first was the only run the Spikes posted the entire game and Jesse Jenner was the only player to have a multi-hit night.

Spikes’ starter Dailyn Martinez was relieved by Luke Harrison in the sixth. Martinez, who was awarded the loss, yielded two runs (both unearned) on three hits and two walks. Martinez struck out a season-high eight batters over his 5 1/3 innings.

Harrison also allowed two runs on three hits – including one of the two Batavia homers – while striking out one over 1 2/3 innings. Pedro Echemendia allowed a solo homer while striking out one over one inning.

WP: Squier, Scott. (5-1) [4.41]
LP: Martinez, Dailyn. (3-4) [3.45]

Who’s Hot

Jacob Evans. Evans has an ERA of 0.75 – third lowest on the team. However, he is even better as a starter, having yet to allow a run over 15 innings in that role. This week, Evans earned the win on Wednesday against Williamsport with just two hits over five innings with a total of 55 pitches and matched his career-high of five strikeouts.

Orlando Olivera. In the past 10 games, Olivera scored seven runs on 16 hits (.421), hit two home runs and drove in 11. He also drew two walks and struck out five times. For the season, Olivera has the top spot in team batting average with a cumulative .359 – 52 points ahead of Casey Grayson.

Jhohan Acevedo. Though the outfielder has only six hits in his last six games, he has made them count, with eight runs batted in. Acevedo also stole two bases and scored four runs. He is batting .263 on the season.

Who’s Not

Josh Swirchak. Swirchak has collected a total of one run on five hits, three walks and four strikeouts in the course of the past 10 games in 35 at-bats, for an average of .143. His season average is only slightly better at .219.

Ronnierd Garcia. Garcia has been in a slump, only batting .200 over the last 10 games with two runs on eight hits in 40 at-bats, 11 strikeouts, though he did collect six RBI. Garcia’s season average is .248.

Transactions

On Tuesday, August 18 right-handed pitcher Tyler Bray was promoted to single-A Peoria Chiefs. While on the Spikes, Bray went 0-1 with an ERA of 4.91. He appeared in 17 games (earning two saves) for the Spikes, yielding 16 runs on 25 hits, two home runs and 12 walks while striking out 7 over 29 1/3 innings of work.

A day later, catcher Riley Drongesen was called back to the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Cardinals. Drongesen appeared in six games with State College and collected one run on three hits, one walk and struck out thrice with an average of .150 after 20 at-bats.

On Wednesday, a day after the NYPL All-Star game, right handed pitcher Landon Beck was promoted to Peoria. He joins former teammates Kenny Peoples-Walls, Harrison Bader and Brian O’Keefe - as well as fellow pitchers – Tyler Bray, Nick Frey, Jery Then and Ian McKinney – on the Illinois-based single-A team. This season, Beck went 2-3 with a save and an ERA of 3.26. In the NYPL All-Star Game on Tuesday night, Beck pitched a scoreless inning. In the league, Beck was third in strikeouts (51) over 47 innings pitched.

To replenish the numbers among the Spikes’ pitchers, right-hander Josh Wirsu was received from rookie-level Johnson City. Wirsu appeared in nine games with the JC Cardinals, pitching 45 2/3 innings. He went 2-5 with an ERA of 6.31, yielding 35 runs on 59 hits – three of them home runs – and 17 walks while striking out 27.

Injuries

No new injuries to report.

Team Stats

Batting     Pitching  
R 255   R 221
H 506   H 504
HR 13   HR 16
RBI 228   SO 432
SO 386   BB 165
BB 208   ER 186
AVG 0.254   ERA 3.21

New York-Penn League Pinckney Division Standings

1. Williamsport Crosscutters (PHI) [37-22]
2. State College Spikes (STL) [31-27]
3. West Virginia Black Bears (PIT) [30-29]
4. Auburn Doubledays (WSH) [26-31]
5. Mahoning Valley Scrappers (CLE) [26-31]
6. Batavia Muckdogs (MIA) [25-33]

Wild Card Standings

1. State College Spikes (STL) [31-27]: 0 Games Behind
2. Lowell Spinners (BOS) [30-28]: One Game Behind
3. Staten Island Yankees (NYY) [28-27]: 1 ½ Games Behind
4. Aberdeen IronBirds (BAL) [29-28]: 1 ½ Games Behind
5. West Virginia Black Bears (PIT) [30-29]: 1 ½ Games Behind
6. Hudson Valley Renegades (TB) [29-29]: Two Games Behind

NYPL Athletic Trainer of the Year

Spikes athletic trainer Dan Martin was named the 2015 New York-Penn League Athletic Trainer of the Year on Wednesday. Announced by President Mark O’Neal of the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS), the award is given annually to one member of each of the 16 leagues in Minor League Baseball, plus one award for the Dominican Summer League and an additional award for the Minor League Coordinator.

An Oregon native, Martin is in his third consecutive season as the State College Spikes’ Athletic Trainer and in his fourth as an AT in the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization.

What is Next

The Spikes will finish the last two games of the three-game series against the Batavia Muckdogs (MIA) Saturday and Sunday. Then, the team will travel back to Pennsylvania for a three-day away series at Williamsport (PHI) before returning to State College for another three-game series against the Auburn Doubledays.





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